The Ansar Dine have seized the city and hope to "destroy every mausoleum in the city — all of them, without exception."

The fabled desert city of Timbuktu, Mali, is in some trouble.  

Islamist militants affiliated with the extremist group Ansar Dine have seized the city and are trashing shrines to Islamic saints and mosques. They are targeting any building that falls outside the "strict interpretation" of Islamic law. A spokesman for Ansar Dine told the BBC that the group hopes to "destroy every mausoleum in the city — all of them, without exception." This includes tombs higher than 6 inches.

Today, they broke the door of Sidi Yahia, a 15th-century mosque. According to Global Post, Sidi Yahia is one of Timbuktu's "three great mosques, and the door had previously been sealed for centuries as it led to the sacred tomb of saints."

Sidi Yahya (Reuters)



According to AFP:

A former tour guide in the once-popular tourist destination said: "They came with pick-axes, they cried 'Allah' and broke the door. It is very serious. Some of the people watching began crying." 

Another man, a relative of a local imam (religious leader), said he had spoken to members of Ansar Dine and "they wanted to show that it is not the end of the world" when the door is opened. 

According to the website of the UN cultural agency (UNESCO) Sidi Yahya is one of Timbuktu's three great mosques and was built around 1400, dating back to the city's golden age as a desert crossroads and centre for learning.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: A lone tourist in Barcelona, one of several global cities that have seen a massive crash in Airbnb bookings.
    Coronavirus

    Can Airbnb Survive Coronavirus?

    The short-term rental market is reeling from the coronavirus-driven tourism collapse. Can the industry’s dominant player stage a comeback after lockdowns lift?

  2. A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask walks past a boarded up building in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Governors from coast to coast Friday told Americans not to leave home except for dire circumstances and ordered nonessential business to shut their doors.
    Equity

    The Geography of Coronavirus

    What do we know so far about the types of places that are more susceptible to the spread of Covid-19? In the U.S., density is just the beginning of the story.

  3. Equity

    The Problem With a Coronavirus Rent Strike

    Because of coronavirus, millions of tenants won’t be able to write rent checks. But calls for a rent holiday often ignore the longer-term economic effects.

  4. Illustration: two roommates share a couch with a Covid-19 virus.
    Coronavirus

    For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

    Renters in apartments and houses share more than just germs with their roommates: Life under coronavirus lockdown means negotiating new social rules.

  5. Equity

    We'll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First.

    We must prepare for a protracted battle with coronavirus. But there are changes we can make now to prepare locked-down cities for what’s next.

×